Source: Publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Angry Robot for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: YA fantasy.
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.
Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.
Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.
To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…
This is the review for a second book in the series so it probably contains spoilers for Stolen Songbird.
I wanted to like Hidden Huntress so much… I read Stolen Songbird but never reviewed it – and I thought it was a very decent beginning of a YA fantasy series, I liked Cécile and Tristan (especially because they were both reluctant to fall in love, it’s a nice twist on the kidnapper-turned-lover trope) and was eager to find out what would happen, though I was a bit sad they were separated right at the end of the book. So for a series that focuses so strongly on romance – and it does, though the main theme’s really this struggle to find humanity in both human and troll race and all – Tristan and Cécile spent a terribly small amount of time together in this book.
I’m sad to say the plot of Hidden Huntress seems to suffer from the second book syndrome, meaning that it drags a bit and nothing really exciting happens until the end – which is, admittedly, full of surprises. Cécile is forced to obey the rules set out by her unfeeling mother, all the while trying to fulfill the promise she made to Tristan’s father, the king of Trollus. Trying to kill the witch Anushka is eating up her thoughts and consuming her, which makes sense but it changed her in ways I didn’t particularly like. I also missed Tristan – he does have his own chapters but he was somehow pushed into second place.
But it was the setting that kept nagging me and I experienced, for the first time in a long while, the feeling of being “thrown out” of a book – which is pretty bad when you’re reading secondary-world fantasy, no? While most of the happenings in Stolen Songbird take place in the country and then in Trollus, a kingdom under the Mountain, Cécile’s part of Hidden Huntress, at least, is set in Trianon, the capital of this island country. And Trianon is remarkably similar to Paris, at least for me, there’s the opera house and the dancers, the seedy Pigalle quarter where the witch called “La Voisin” lives (OK this may have been an ARC problem but the French word for a female “neighbor” is “la voisine”). Anyway, it’s like Paris but not Paris and while I’m all for fantasy cities inspired by real-life places (hello, Camorr!), this one didn’t convince me at all.
Sigh. You see, I’m a mood reader. And this book failed to catch my interest, so I dragged it out and read about four other books in between, which is probably unfair, but then if it was interesting enough, I wouldn’t have had this problem… It’s a vicious circle. I’m probably going to read Warrior Witch so I can finish the series – and I really would like to know how some of the things that happened towards the end of Hidden Huntress play out. I just hope the series ends with a bang, instead of slowly sizzling out.
Have you read Stolen Songbird or Hidden Huntress? What did you think?
Do you also dislike second books in trilogies? (For me, they’re the worst.)
I’d love to hear from you! :)